Whoever holds office, Trinidad and Tobago has no easy road ahead at this time, said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley as he also dismissed the United National Congress’ ‘PNM corruption’ claims.
The prime minister was at the time addressing his Diego Martin West People’s National Movement constituency annual general meeting at the Point Cumana Community Centre in Carenage.
On the current economic crunch, he said, “The quicker we treat with this period in a serious way is the quicker we’ll get out of it.”
Apparently referring to the Opposition, he alleged that people who had been profligate in the past now posed the biggest obstacle to the Government’s goals.
He accused the Opposition of wrongfully wooing people who want an easy time.
“Whoever is in office there is no easy time available to the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said. “We have to buckle down and climb this mountain in front of us.”
Rowley further dismissed claims by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar that his Government was corrupt.
Listing the Government’s actions criticised by the Opposition as “proof” of his alleged corruption, such as buying the Cazabon collection for $3 million (which he said was a fraction of its true value), Rowley scoffed, “If that is an example of corruption, I stand accused and plead guilty.”
He alleged that the Opposition saw no difference between spending and thieving. He defended Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe’s $50,000 accidental roaming bill and Sports Minister Darryl Smith’s $92,000 stay in Tobago with ministry staff.
Rowley defended the $80 million spent to finish the Brian Lara Academy and accused the former United National Congress (UNC) government of alleged corruption in having left the facility unattended (incomplete.)
Earlier, he championed the idea of political integrity by relating that declassified documents showed the American authorities had spied on former prime minister Dr Eric Williams from whom they wished to get Chaguaramas lands for their naval base to try to get any embarrassing information. “What stunned me is where that information was coming from, but that’s another story.”
He said while they tried to “frame him, blame him and remove him”, Williams’ ultimate longevity in political office was because he had no cocoa in the sun
Regarding Chaguaramas, Rowley said the Government had reversed several dubious measures done by the former government in leasing lands to supporters.
He said the Government got a waterpark operator who had been granted a stretch of beachfront land near the Convention Centre to agree to withdraw his boundary from the public beach, to relinquish claims to Pier Two lands and to decline $300 million in taxpayers money to build a car-park. Rowley lamented that under the former government the investor had allegedly been given a signed “blank form” for incentives whose details had not been listed.